BadgerComics.com updates

So I figured this place would be as good as any to start keeping a log of changes made to Badger. I really do update the site considerably and (currently) without a newsletter this seems like a decent public forum to make mention of those changes (at least the ones I can make mention of).

Searching by date has been fixed. Previously (and unbeknown to me) searching by date had been broken due to incompatibilities with our url system. This has been fixed.

On-sale items are also now broken out in search results. Search results previously listed the item’s on sale prices, but you can now specifically look only at results that are on sale.

Upcoming (hopefully soon) is also the ability to have your summary search results (the first page) constantly on the same page as the actual search results. This will let you jump to different sections as desired much more easily without having to go all the way back to your results. This includes both the summary results as well as individual title results.

Verbage was added to the confirmation screen of subscription/pre-orders. This is, judging by the sheer number of emails received, the single most confusing and unintuitive portion of the site. A new confirmation screen explains in much more depth what it means to confirm, what emails you can expect, where you can find your subscription/pre-order history, etc.

Along those lines, your Subscription Management page is now linked to from your My Account page, located directly under the order history link. Hopefully this will work to further differentiate subscripions/pre-orders from store orders.

Also along those lines, a new info box has been added on the subscription product info pages for prior months informing users that particular item is no longer available for pre-order. I wasn’t taking into account the amount of traffic that would be generated from google searches and forum links to past months’ products.

AND ON THAT NOTE (:P) product notifications are now working properly for subscription items. Previously they just didn’t work, at all. I apologize to anyone who was subscribed to a pre-order product’s notification before. But as of now, they will work and the customer will be notified when that product arrives. Of course Badger doesn’t order every item from Previews, so there are still plenty of products that a customer wouldn’t be notified on. However at least in some instances, like where there’s a hot designer toy, if we happen to get extras in notifications will be sent out automatically.

Some previous updates from the past month or so include:

Better layout on Product Info and Subscription Product Info pages, including larger images on these pages and a more logical and intuitive layout.

More frequent updating of product specials .

A system to more promptly deal with weekly damages and shorts allowing our weekly inventory t be more up to date.

As well, we are currently under taking a tremendously large physical inventory sorting and auditing that will also allow our inventory to be increasingly accurate. One thing I don’t think most customers are aware of is that our inventory system that catalogs our books is the same inventory system that drives the site, in real time no less. So if one customer added book A into their cart and another customer checked out with book A before the first customer could, the system would kick the first customer back out to the shopping cart screen saying there was insufficient inventory. Thus it is VERY important for our inventory system to be on top of everything. Once this physical inventory management is done, we should head even further above our current 99.8% fill rate, not to mention we will continue to eliminate the number of large orders that are not shipping within the same day.

That’s all for now. More info as updates are published to the site.

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Windows Mobile 6, Postfix, Dovecot and SASL: Working Together

So we moved servers recently, and mostly this has been fine. The web was working for all domains, email was working mostly.. There were a few nagging issues but overall nothing major, except one. I could not for the life of me send email from my AT&T Tilt using my mail server. Previously I was sending through gmail which of course is setup to work with everything. Well, one of the problems with managing your own server is that YOU have to be the one to set everything up.

A look at some of the problems. First, no matter what I did on my phone, as soon as Windows Mobile 6 (WM6) saw that my server supported TLS it automatically issued the STARTTLS command. This is funny because I deleted my email profile and readded it 100 times both using SSL on outgoing and not using it. And no matter how I set it up, Postfix reported that WM6 was trying to use a secure login. Once I turned off authentication, it would no longer use TLS. Weird.

So we know I can connect to my mail server and we know now that TLS is working fine, but clearly something is wrong as I still can’t send mail. However I can send it from home just fine using Thunderbird. I have spent weeks on this folks. I’ve looked through every bit of postfix documentation, turned logging up to as verbose as it could go. All I know is that my WM6 device would connect, start a TLS session, and then disconnect. That’s when I noticed something.

Every single example I was reading was telling me to setup SASL to accept PLAIN and LOGIN mechanisms. Whether dovecot or cyrus sasl implementations, they all had the same thing in their examples. So I figured “What the hell?” AND IT WORKED! *cue fireworks*

So there you have it. If you are setting up your own mail server and need to have your Windows Mobile 6 device working with it, make sure to enable the LOGIN mechanism for AUTH on your smtp gateway. It will save you a whole heap of trouble.

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Things Unseen

Sitting in the bar after work, Ted was trying hard to forget his hectic day of numbers and spreadsheets. The most peaceful thought in the world at this moment was wondering what the newswoman on the TV looked like without that red top on. The bar was loud enough to drown out her voice, but it didn’t matter as long as he was on his stool and not behind a desk. His wife would be expecting him home soon, but he managed to steal at least a few drinks in solitude every night after work.

At this moment, a well dressed gentleman took the next stool. “Scotch please.” On the news read the headline ‘4 Dead In Shooting’. “You’d think with all the crime that goes on, they would put a little extra focus on nicer things every once in a while,” the man said. “What’s the point of watching the news just to be depressed 30 minutes at a time?” Ted gave a slight smirk. He’d often wondered that same thing, but simply responded with, “I don’t know.” The man seemed perfectly fine, but Ted just wanted a moment alone with his drink more than anything right now. “I guess.” The man seemed determined to have a conversation despite the obvious dismissal. “I mean if all we hear about are shootings and rapes, who’s going to tell us about the Siamese twin monkeys born around the world!?!?” Ted laughed. “Yeah, I suppose.” “The name’s Karl.” “Ted.” He gave Karl a nod. “Nice to meet you Ted. Sorry for being so talky. I just hate drinking alone. Life is best enjoyed with company.” While company is the last thing he wished for right now, he decided to humor Karl’s desire for conversation. “I suppose. Although there’s something to be said for unwinding in peace and quiet,” Ted said, jokingly contesting his defeat.

The usual topics came up over a few more drinks; the weather, the losing sports team and even the newsgirl. “I’d give her something to report on,” Karl huffed. He may have been well dressed, but it was obvious he never shook off his frat boy years entirely. Ted complained about being an accountant, while Karl was apparently in marketing. “No matter the shit, we can sell it,” he pitched in his best sales voice. Karl complained about his girlfriend “I swear, it’s like I can never do enough.” “They’re like that. They just keep asking for more, and when you give it to them, they take a little bit extra just because,” Ted responded. Karl burst out laughing! “EXACTLY!” The conversation meandered for a bit longer before Ted’s cell rang. “Hold on. It’s the wife.” Karl went back to his drink. “Yeah, I’m on my way. Just got caught up for a bit. I’m leaving now.” Ted finished his beer. “Well, it’s about that time.” “I guess so,” Karl admitted. “It was good. I didn’t completely want to kill you for ruining my ‘me time’,” Ted joked. “Well, that’s great! A real close one there.” They both laughed.

They exited the bar together both heading separate directions. On the drive home, Ted’s phone buzzed again. “Geez woman, it’s only been 5 minutes.” Glancing at his phone he saw it wasn’t a call but a text. “say hi to kelly for me”. The number was unfamiliar, and the reference to his wife unnerved him to say the least. He hit dial. “Ted!! Didn’t expect to hear back from you so soon!” It was Karl. What was going on? “How do you know me? How do you know Kelly?” He was now outright shaking. “I’ve known Kelly for a while Ted. You see, I’m going to kill her. Of course I have to kill you too. I just wanted to introduce myself before I do. You deserved to meet me first.” Ted hung up and frantically dialed home. Kelly answered. “Honey, leave the house immediately. Don’t ask, just leave!” “Ted, what are you talking about?” “LEAVE NOW!” “Ted, you’re scaring me! Please tell me what’s going on.” She was panicking. “I’m coming up the street now! Come outside and get in the car!”

The house came up and he saw the door opening. Kelly was walking down the driveway. “Ted, what’s going on?????” “Get in the car when I pull up,” he yelled into the phone. As he approached, a nearby car’s lights lit up. He pulled up, and Kelly got in. The other car moved behind. They sped off as the other car followed. “Ted, please tell me what’s going on.” “I met a guy tonight who I think is trying to kill us. I’m pretty sure he’s behind us.” “What are you talking about? What man?” “Some guy named Karl. We had drinks at the bar. After we left, I got this.” He tossed the phone at her. “Look at the text.” As she looked at the phone she said, still shaking, “Oh my god…. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” “What are..? What did you do?”, Ted asked now stopped at a light, glancing at Karl still in the car behind them. “Goodbye Ted.” The flash from the gun was the last image of Ted’s life.

Kelly got out of the car and headed towards Karl’s. “You were supposed to kill him and make it look like a robbery,” she scolded as she got in. “That was the plan.” “I know. I just wanted to meet him before we did it,” he confessed. “So what do we do now that you screwed it up?” She was furious. “We can just head back home and call it in like we planned. We’ll improvise,” Karl suggested. Then it began. “I swear you can’t even get the simplest thing right. You constantly leave everything up to me. I am sick of it.” She continued to berate him the entire way back. Still, he just drove and smiled, all the while thinking about the little secret he had entrusted to Ted.

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20 Years Old

Rush – Hold Your Fire is 20 years old this year. You know, there isn’t a single album EVER…. that I’ve listened to more. If there is one album/song that I would ask be played at my funeral, it would be this. Everything from Prime Mover to Time Stand Still pretty much describes my life up til now to a T. I just hope those of you reading this can take as much from this album as what’s lead me to this point until now. For a glimpse as to what’s held in this tell all tale… read this:

I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath,
Before I start off again
Driven on,
Without a moment to spend
To pass an evening
With a drink and a friend

I let my skin get too thin
Id like to pause,
No matter what I pretend
Like some pilgrim —
Who learns to transcend —
Learns to live
As if each step was the end

Time stand still —
Im not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now

Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger
Experience slips away…

I turn my face to the sun
Close my eyes,
Let my defences down —
All those wounds
That I cant get unwound

I let my past go too fast
No time to pause —
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain,
Whose ship runs aground —
I can wait until the tide
Comes around

Make each impression
A little bit stronger
Freeze this motion
A little bit longer
The innocence slips away…

Summers going fast —
Nights growing colder
Children growing up —
Old friends growing older
Experience slips away…

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Do I still like comics?

A question I receive a lot since starting the store is “Do you even still like comics?” It’s funny that this is asked.

Years ago, when I pictured myself opening a brick and mortar shop, bringing it to the point of success of being able to have that as my full-time job, I envisioned it probably how most aspiring store owners envision it. Sit around and read comics, ringing up the occasional (but hopefully not too occasional) customer and living the high life. In short, not only would I still love comics, but I would get to spend more time with them than ever.

So what is it like now that I have a shop with no walk-in customers, no one to wait on in that sense. What is it like while maintaining a primary full-time (and sometimes beyond full-time) job? When you have a full-time job, obviously your free time is minimized, and when you fill your free time with more work your free time is basically decimated. You also find that you want to avoid playing with the stuff during your free time that you work on during your work time. This has been true of computers for years.. Hell, over a decade now. I still play around with computers and go through the occasional periods where a particular game tickles my fancy, but for the most part computers have not been a source of entertainment or enjoyment for me for quite a while. And now for the past year, comics fall into that same category, they haven’t been a source of entertainment for me, at least not consistent entertainment for quite a while.

But that really doesn’t get to the point of the question now does it? Do I still like comments? No, I still love them. There is a part of me that is still 12 years old walking into Polaris Comics for the first time, picking up the newest Sensational Spider-Man (part three of Kraven’s Last Hunt that B. Dalton didn’t carry). Looking at racks and racks and racks of new comics. As many books as B. Dalton and Waldenbooks had, this is how many comics Polaris had, at least how it seemed to my 12 year old eyes. The thing about it is, when I read comics, when I actually have time to sit down and enjoy them, it might as well be 1987 all over again because the sense of wonder and escapism is identical. About the only thing that’s changed over the years is the understanding of what comics are capable of, and the types of stories that you can enjoy while reading comics. It’s no longer just about super heroes or action of adventure or horror. As you look around our store you’ll find romance, drama, mystery, young adult coming of age stories, a whole variety of the different stories comics are capable of telling. I’ve learned that there is plenty more out there to enjoy than just superheroes and action.

With that being said though, there’s still nothing like sitting on the couch and reading through a run of Iron Man or Green Lantern on a late rainy evening with the windows open and a breeze blowing through. The same type of night that twenty years ago planted this seed of owning a own comic shop into my head.

You can’t always go back, so sometimes it’s just better off to leave a part of yourself back there so you can on occasion return and visit from time to time.

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Here we complain some more about IE and CSS

bah.. so I want to fix the width of some dropdown boxes.. it will usually (though not always) be smaller than the width of the text in them. Firefox and Opera handle this fine, expanding the actual list of options when you activate it so you can see everything. IE 6 and 7 however don’t expand when you activate it so the list is just cutoff and looks sloppy.

granted it’s not part of the css standard. So IE is actually behaving properly with CSS.. you’d just think MS would go the extra mile for usability.. well ok, maybe not.

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Ribs at 1am

Ribs at one in the morning actually taste quite delicious. Not burning down the garage is also a bonus.

I am 32. I don’t feel old, nor do I ever complain about being old. I like to be in bed early. Ok, not early, but 10-11pm is definitely a fine time to want to go to bed. I work two jobs and have a family so the thought of even semi-regularly staying up until 1pm, 2pm, 4pm etc doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal for me. So the question is, why is it that some people consider not wanting to do that getting old? And this isn’t directed at anyone in particular but just a general question.

To me “getting old” is when you can no longer do the things you want to do. Not wanting to listen to crap that’s being put out on the radio now doesn’t make you old. Wondering why teenagers look like a blind vindictive tasteless monkey dressed them is not getting old. I mean the current younger generation would definitely say that’s the case, but most of them haven’t even faced their first major life crisis yet. Getting old is no longer being able to jog or bike as far as you’d like to anymore. It’s not having the energy on a low activity day to stay up past 8-9pm. It’s going to the movies and automatically being given the senior ticket price. (I kid, I kid…)

So cooking (and eating) ribs and burgers at 2pm in the morning definitely livens up the occasion and makes for some stories. Fortunately not falling-in-the-fire-pit type of stories, but stories nonetheless. Still, if you see it’s 10-11pm at night and you find yourself saying “I really have no reason to stay up past now, could get a good sleep and have a productive day tomorrow,” that doesn’t make you old. It just makes you smart.

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And that’s a wrap folks

Well, I am writing this at quarter to midnight. We just got every package out the door, every order shipped, billing done, and closed out the store’s single biggest day in its short but exciting history. To put it simply, we are currently past my modest expectations for our one year benchmark.. a ways past it. As we continue to grow there is one group of people who I genuinely want to thank, and every business owner out there should know who that is: our customers. It is the people who gave us a shot, the ones who passed our name on to their friends, and the ones who keep coming back every week, every couple of weeks, and every month. I can’t possibly begin to express how much we appreciate you guys.

And speaking of appreciation, we are throwing together some really great things for our one year anniversary. I know mentioning it on a blog seems kind of weird, especially one that’s not officially linked to the store, but I’ll save the “official” announcements for our store newsletters.

Anyway, I’m tired as hell and still have my regular job to attend to in a few short hours. Just one more quick shout out to .977 80s. This channel kept us going through the day and almost made me forget what time it was now.

Almost. Night all. And buy Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1. Probably one of the best comics to come out in.. well, a very long time. Whether a fan of superheroes or action this is a fantastic read.

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